By Alice Munro
Published by Allen Lane
As a child Rose had a hard life. Born into the hard back-street life of a small Canadian town, her mother dead, she battled constantly with her stepmother Flo, a practical and shrewd woman, who cowed her with tales from her own past and warned her of the dangerous world outside. Flo was both soft and hard, full of outrages and sorrows jumbled together. Rose was ambitious, determined and clever. She won a scholarship and left for Toronto, where she married Patrick, heir to a department store chain. For Patrick, Rose was his Beggar Maid, ‘meek and voluptuous, with her sly white feet’, and he, her knight, content to sit and adore her.